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The Submission: A Novel Paperback – March 27, 2012
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Amazon Best Books of the Month, August 2011: Amy Waldman has performed a rare and dangerous feat in writing an airtight, multi-viewed, highly readable post-9/11 novel. When a Muslim architect wins a blind contest to design a Ground Zero Memorial, a city of eleven million people takes notice. Waldman, a former bureau chief for the New York Times, explores a diversity of viewpoints around this fictional event, bringing in politicians, businessmen, journalists, activists, and normal people whose lives--whether by happenstance, choice, or even due to their country of origin--get caught up in the controversy. Incredibly, she manages to keep all the balls in the air without ever fumbling. The story is moving and keeps the pages turning, but there are also bigger themes at work: of individuals versus groups; about the purpose of art, commerce, government, and journalism in society; of how people respond to grief and terror. The result is honest, compelling, and breathtaking.--Chris Schluep--This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
“A masterful debut . . . Waldman unspools her story with the truth-bound grit of a seasoned journalist and the elegance of a born novelist.” ―Entertainment Weekly
“Gripping, deeply intelligent . . . panoramic in scope but thrillingly light on its feet . . . [A] dazzling tapestry of a grieving city.” ―Kimberly Cutter, Marie Claire
“The Submission reads as if the author had embraced Tom Wolfe's famous call for a new social realism...and in doing so has come up with a story that has more verisimilitude, more political resonance, and way more heart than Mr. Wolfe's own 1987 bestseller, The Bonfire of the Vanities.” ―Michiko Kakutani, The New York Times Book Review
“A gorgeously written novel of ideas...The Submission is sure to generate a lot of discussion in book clubs across the land.” ―NPR's Fresh Air
“Addictively readable...Not unlike The Wire's David Simon...Waldman has an eye for the less sound bite-worthy but crucial ways in which ideology and influence make their imprint on the world.” ―Vogue
More About the Author
She has been a fellow at the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study and at the American Academy in Berlin. Her fiction has appeared in the Boston Review and the Atlantic, and was anthologized in The Best American Non-Required Reading 2010. She lives with her family in Brooklyn.
The Submission is her first novel. Her website is www.thesubmissionnovel.com
Top Customer Reviews
"Mo" is as American as can be. He's an architect, born and raised in Virginia. His immigrant parents proudly gave him the name of a beloved prophet. Never would they have imagined that a few decades later that name would become like poison to many Americans. "Mo" is Mohammad Khan. A Muslim name. Suddenly his design, "The Garden," becomes suspect, and the selection committee backpedals on its decision.
This story felt so real that it sometimes made my heart ache for my country, my world, my species. How easily we let ourselves be distracted, led away from the harmony we say we want. When the media and special interest groups push our buttons, they can make us forget why we've come together and what we hoped to accomplish. The voices of reason and reconciliation are often the most gentle and the hardest to hear amid the din of controversy.
It's challenging to give a plausible ending to a novel with real-life parallels. This book poses more questions than it answers, which is as it should be. Given the complexity of the issues, I think Waldman found a strong and believable finish. Our hope for the younger generations is powerful. Those who are too young to remember September 11, 2001 and its aftermath may be our best chance for a balanced perspective and, ultimately, for healing.
The evolving sequence of events Waldman, a former reporter for The New York Times, describes is plausible enough, and full of details that have the ring of truth. But the issues raised and the views expressed are so familiar from the Park51 brouhaha and other aspects of the national discourse about Islam that it's difficult to escape the feeling one has read all this before. There are no real surprises in the way things play out, and the ignorant difficulty many characters have in thinking clearly about Islam, while true to life, makes for frustrating reading. Ultimately the novel fails to offer a new or surprising perspective on Islam, the September 11th attacks, or any other relevant topic, and feels more like a journalistic variation on real events than a story with guiding themes of its own.
Nor does it illuminate the personalities involved in its fictional debate enough to generate greater understanding of those involved in actual ones. Waldman demonstrates an awareness that politicans, journalists, activists, and commentators manipulate events like this not out of any great interest in outcomes, but to further their own ends.Read more ›
The central problem with the novel is its lack of believable emotion. I never got a full sense of Claire Burwell's husband as a vivid, particular character; thus I could not share her grief or that of her children. The real moral center of the novel is Asma Anwar, a Bangladeshi illegal immigrant whose husband, Inam, also died in the towers on 9/11. Her tragedy as it plays out is affecting but not deeply moving because even she is treated at a remove in this novel that is much more preoccupied with ideas than characters. Waldman often veers into stereotypes: the unscrupulous NY Post reporter, the muddle-minded, failure-haunted brother of a firefighter who died on 9/11,the anti-Islam-agitator housewife, and the Rush Limbaugh-like talk show shock jock. Even Claire and the late Cal Burwell come across as stereotypes: impeccably tasteful, emotionally repressed, hyperprivileged WASPs.
Overall, admirable for its literary elegance, but ultimately cold, overly intellectual and unsatisfying.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
A very thought provoking read I Highly recommend. A story with endless layers on a subject which is still so current.Published 12 days ago by Gail Roney
While the plot was interesting and full of twists, I thought the characters were drawn to fit the story, and as such were not real people, at least to me. Read morePublished 20 days ago by Dorit Paul
Is “research novel” a genre? It shouldn’t be; the term sounds disparaging, as if the author has used some sort of trick to goose sales and written something... Read more
Gets bogged down in the middle, but really a novel to make you stop and think. I love looking at an event from many viewpoints and either change how I think or as in most cases... Read morePublished 3 months ago by Jeanne Hanson
The idea was really good but in a way the book looses itself on the way. Too many words, too many stories intertwined, and in the end what really mattered (to me of course) was not... Read morePublished 3 months ago by Gonza
Couldn't put it down. I love gardens and architecture. This story is about lives, ego, courage, racism...... And of course the fear of the unknown. Read morePublished 3 months ago by Luz Gomez Romero
The Submission is a fascinating study in a "what if" situation that tears apart complex political decisions. The characters are deep and interesting..Published 3 months ago by Greer
It's one of the best books I've read this year. Set within the familiar post 9/11 trauma, the dilemma of a Muslim, albeit an American, winning the design contest of what... Read morePublished 3 months ago by Gigi